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Minister of Social Affairs made political statement in connection with submission of Act concerning family benefits 

The Riigikogu approved the agenda for the working week, according to which 17 draft Acts and Resolutions will be deliberated. 

The Minister of Social Affairs Helmen Kütt made a political statement after having submitted to the Riigikogu the Bill on Amendments to the State Family Benefits Act and the Social Welfare Act, initiated by the Government. 

In Kütt’s words, it is a historic Bill which, once it becomes an Act, will affect circa 270 000 children and their parents, and indirectly also all Estonian people. As of next year, the state will begin to pay a benefit in an amount of 45 euro, instead of the current 19.18 euro, for all first and second children of families. At the same time, the benefit for the third child will rise to 100 euro per month, and needs-based family benefits will increase by 4.7 times, rising to 45 euro per month. In Kütt’s opinion, it is a historic milestone also because the last time that universal family benefits were risen was on 1 January 2004, or it can be soon said – eleven long years ago. “We are taking extremely radical steps which offer a sense of security to families and actually improve the welfare of tens of thousands of families in Estonia and the children who are being raised there,” Kütt said. 

The Minister of Social Affairs explained that the proposals made in the Bill mark a great change in our family policy. In order that the benefit for the first and second child could rise by 25.82 euro, and the benefit for the third and subsequent child could rise by 23.28 euro, the child benefit expenditure will need to be increased by ca 70 million euro in 2015. That is, if 70.6 million euro were spent on child benefits from the state budget in 2013 then, by 2015, approximately 151 million euro will be needed to pay the benefits. “In other words, the state will invest nearly twice more money into the improvement of the quality of life of children in Estonia in the coming year,” Kütt underlined. She added that this means a very great additional burden on the State Treasury. However, it is a step that must inevitably be taken. “If not, we will continue to face the decreasing birth rate, young families leaving abroad, and the painful fact that a large number of children in Estonia are growing up in need. Besides all other good and necessary points, by approving this Bill, the Riigikogu will send a clear message to the public that every child is valuable and that the state cares for every one of its children,” Kütt said. 

The Minister of Social Affairs noted that, besides the increase of universal child benefits, the increase of the needs-based family benefit will be a significant help to families living in difficulties. The needs-based family benefit for families with one child will rise from today’s 9.59 euro to 45 euro starting from the beginning of 2015. The needs-based family benefit for families with two or more children will increase from 19.18 euro to 90 euro. “In the determination of subsistence benefits, the share of the child, or the coefficient will rise from the current 0.8 to 1, which will leave more money in the hands of the families who are in the greatest difficulties,” Kütt explained. 

“An efficient family policy is at the same time an effective security policy, economic policy and regional policy. This is undisputedly a Bill that will improve the welfare and subsistence of our families already in the coming year, and that is at the same time an investment in the future,” Kütt noted.

Liisa-Ly Pakosta, Heljo Pikhof, Marika Tuus-Laul and Inara Luigas took the floor during the debate. 

During the open microphone, Heimar Lenk, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Viktor Vassiljev and Marianne Mikko took the floor. 

Photos: https://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2014/Riigikogu/kytt/

The Riigikogu Press Service